Get real

SIR — This is a response to some of your articles related to Herts County Council s care provision and the closure of the day centre at Jubilee Centre in St Albans. With reference to the Herts Advertiser dated February and the two related articles — the s

SIR - This is a response to some of your articles related to Herts County Council's care provision and the closure of the day centre at Jubilee Centre in St Albans.

With reference to the Herts Advertiser dated February and the two related articles - the statement by county Cllr Sally Newton "we care about carers" and the "so why close the vital day-care services"? - the articles moved me to tears through two conflicting emotions. The first that Cllr Newton could make such a statement is laughable and secondly through anger, despair and frustration at the reality of the situation caused by the county in their decision to close the Jubilee Centre's day care centre.

To say that "there may be a whole range of services available to older carers that would make their lives easier", and "that is what we are here for" is at best political rhetoric.

The way in which the county dismissed the petition signed by over 5,000 residents shows that they do not understand the needs of the disabled or their carers and are not willing to listen when those same carers offer suggestions on their needs.


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In the report submitted to HCC, the Adult Care Services (ACS) made certain claims reported in the appendix of that report. ACS knew that only 10 places could be made available at Vesta Lodge, half the places that are needed with far less space for current rehab recreation.

It now transpires that the building at Vesta Lodge is unfit for purpose and that major construction work will be needed to provide a bathroom, adequate toilet facilities and an examination room. No budget has been made available for this work.

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It further suggests that some would be better off staying at home and being visited by people from "Break away for carers" who provide sitters for a number of hours a day - a policy of isolation. The whole purpose of the Jubilee day centre was to enable people to get out of their homes and join a community.

The stay-at-home policy will inevitably cause pressures on other services. To provide the nursing cover, more visits will have to be provided at home rather than at the Jubilee day centre where a number could be seen at the one location.

It will also mean that the meals-on-wheels service will have to provide additional deliveries to each home address.

But they are not on the ACS budget so that doesn't matter does it?

More recently in your newspaper we have read about the pay increases that have been given to the HCC officers at a time when costs to the disabled, who have to pay for their care, have risen by 27 to 40 per cent.

How many redundant councillors would it take to provide the necessary budget to keep the services in place?

I have also received the latest HCC Hertfordshire Horizon pre-election paper that seems to suggest what a wonderful job they are doing and in particular their concerns about younger carers, under 18 years old, some 5,000-8,000 of them and the county council's suggestion that they could be provided with a day out at a theme park, provided through a self help group only partially funded.

Get real HCC, those carers need more than a day out. They need respite and somewhere that can provide support so that they can get on with their lives and education. But of course I forget that day care services and youth centres are also being closed.

The evidence seems to suggest that HCC does not want to provide the care or social environment where we can all feel safe, cared for, listened too and supported.

I think their slogan "we care about carers" needs to be revised to "we could not care less if we tried".

MERVYN RICHARDS,

The Ridgeway, St Albans.

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